Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct 08, 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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20 OCT. 8, 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY TYLER HORKA M arcus Freeman trotted into the visitor's tunnel at Kenan Stadium with his hand held high. The cacophonous sound of the crowd clad in blue, gold and green had proba‑ bly never sounded so sweet to the Notre Dame head coach. Sure, he heard it one week prior after the first victory of his career. But he didn't leave the field at Notre Dame Stadium after that win over Cal in the same manner he did in Chapel Hill. After beating the Bears, Freeman emitted a literal sigh of relief with wid‑ ened eyes and the look of a man who narrowly escaped disaster. There was nothing narrow about Notre Dame vs. North Carolina. And nothing diffident about Freeman's postgame demeanor. He looked the part of a man whose team won in convincing fashion. The Fighting Irish got up by 24 points in the third quarter. The result was never in grave danger from then on. Freeman and company cruised to a 45‑32 victory in a game they were projected to lose by anywhere from one point to a field goal according to Las Vegas oddsmakers the morning of the game. "For the entirety of the game, we played really, really well," Freeman said. "We played really well. And the beauty of it is there is always room to get better." Notre Dame scored on six straight possessions spanning from the end of the first quarter to early in the third. At that point, the Irish led 38‑14. It was a balanced attack; junior quar‑ terback Drew Pyne passed for 289 yards and 3 touchdowns with no intercep‑ tions. He completed 24 of his 34 at‑ tempts to seven different targets. The Irish ran for 287 yards on 51 car‑ ries. Sophomore tailback Audric Estime led the way with 17 totes for 134 yards and 2 touchdowns. He would have had 3 had he not fumbled just before go‑ ing over the goal line late in the fourth quarter. Those are the types of miscues Free‑ man alluded to in there always being room to get better. Notre Dame was just so good against the Heels that plays like that or the 44‑yard missed field goal on the Irish's second offensive possession didn't matter. The Notre Dame defense held one of the most productive offenses in the country to 367 yards, and 144 of those came on two plays. Take those away, and the Irish would have held North Caro‑ lina to a mere 223 yards. Again — getting beat deep twice in the second half spelled out "room to get better." But those plays shouldn't take anything away from what was Notre Dame's best game of the season to date in all three phases. By far. FIRST QUARTER NORTH CAROLINA 7, NOTRE DAME 0 Top Moment: Facing third‑and‑7 from the Notre Dame 20, Pyne dis‑ played a Houdini act to evade pressure and scamper down the sideline for a gain of 12. The Irish went on to score a touchdown on the same drive early in the second quarter. Feature Performer: Junior Ry‑ lie Mills recorded a sack for a loss of 10 yards. It was the strong‑side defen‑ sive end's first sack of the season, and it flipped the script on the North Carolina offense. The Tar Heels went 76 yards on 12 plays rather easily to open the game. Mills' sack on second down on the next possession got things going for the Irish defensively. Stats: North Carolina outgained Notre Dame 79‑40 in total yards. Items: Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye had 33 rushing yards and 39 pass‑ ing yards on the first drive alone; he found wide receiver Josh Downs for a jump‑ball over Notre Dame graduate student corner TaRiq Bracy on fourth‑ and‑goal from the 4‑yard line for the game's first score … Pyne's first 2 pass attempts were batted down at the line of scrimmage and Notre Dame went three‑ and‑out … Grupe's miss from 44 yards is his first official miss of the season … Sophomore linebacker Prince Kol‑ DÉJÀ BLUE Notre Dame improved to 21-2 all time against North Carolina and 5-0 since 2014 with a dominant 45-32 victory Junior quarterback Drew Pyne passed for 289 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Fighting Irish's win over the Tar Heels. PHOTO BY KAYDEE GAWLIK

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